Sleep is so critical to your whole health.
Sleep allows your mind and body to relax, recover and repair so you stay mentally and physically healthy, and according to researchers sleep is your most powerful immune ally.
A restful sleep is defined as the ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep, which allows time for your body to rest and repair, detoxify, balance blood sugar levels, burn calories and reset your energy reserves.
Without restful sleep, you'll feel fatigued and your body will experience cortisol spikes, sugar cravings and other tricks to keep you awake and able to function.
There's also a growing body of evidence which says sleep cycles impact other cycles in your body such as the digestive and immune systems.
When you sleep, your brain produces 90 minute cycles of slow wave sleep. This is followed by periods of rapid eye movement (REM) during which dreams occur. During the night, your gut also produces 90 minute slow wave muscle contractions which are followed by short burst of rapid movement. Poor sleep cycles can disrupt this digestive function and the healing process within the gut.
You may struggle to fall asleep or wake up during the night and struggle to fall back asleep.
Essential oils are known for their sedative properties that to help relax your mind and body to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and improve sleep quality. For example, Lavender oil is known for its sedative effects.
Essential oils can also be used to support the regions of your brain and organ systems that support or detract from restful sleep for both adults and children.
If you struggle to fall asleep or experience racing thoughts or worries while lying in bed, your natural sleep and wake cycles, known as your circadian rhythms, might be a little out of balance.
As you may know, your stress hormone, cortisol, is released by your adrenal glands. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is released by the pineal gland, a small pine cone shaped endocrine gland located near the center of your brain. Melatonin also has many other neuroprotective benefits.
Your cortisol rhythms are supposed to be highest in the morning and then wane as the day wears on. When you're more active at night and slower in the morning, your cortisol patterns are reversed. This throws off the circadian rhythm because cortisol and melatonin have an antagonistic relationship.
Any disruption in your circadian rhythms as a result of diet or lifestyle choices or toxicity in your pineal gland can throw off melatonin levels. A lack of melatonin almost always correlates with chronic disease. For example, decreased production of melatonin is frequently found in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
To restore optimal melatonin levels, you need to consider your circadian rhythms, your pineal gland and the interaction of other hormones, like cortisol, that can disrupt melatonin levels.
For example, elevated cortisol levels at night actually turn off melatonin production. Similarly, if melatonin is elevated then cortisol is depressed.
Unfortunately, your body, specifically your pineal gland, is supposed to make its own melatonin. External supplementation of the hormone sends the signal to the body that it is sufficient in melatonin production and actually reduces your body’s own production of the hormone. In other words, it throws off the body’s own internal thermostat for self-regulation.
Another option is to help the pineal gland return to its innate intelligence and release more melatonin naturally. Your pineal gland performs several incredibly important functions for your health, including producing and secreting melatonin, a powerful hormone that helps you fall asleep, detoxify and anti-inflame. Unfortunately, environmental toxins like metals, glyphosate and fluoride can damage your pineal gland and impair its ability to produce and secrete adequate levels of melatonin.
An imbalance in the circadian rhythm can present with indicators such as:
The following essentials oils are helpful for clients who struggle to fall asleep:
Nighttime waking, awakening shortly after falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, can often be linked to:
Sudden drops in blood sugar during the sleep cycle can cause the body to release stress hormones that in turn wakes you up and makes you feel wide awake.
Your brain and body need a steady supply of energy, known as blood sugar or glucose to ensure restful sleep. If your blood sugar plummets during the night, your adrenal glands release cortisol (a stress hormone) as an emergency blood-sugar-raising tactic. This cortisol surge is what wakes you up and makes you feel wide awake. This is known as nocturnal hypoglycemia.
Blood sugar issues or your brain’s increased need for glucose can compromise your sleep. For example if you're experiencing excessive stress, your brain will have increased glucose demands during the fasting period of sleep. This is because when your brain is healing, it requires even greater demands for fuel.
The connection between sleep and blood sugar issues goes beyond the obvious fact that when you're tired, you crave sugar and carbohydrates for quick energy. Researchers at Boston University School of medicine found as the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, escalating the issue. The study found that people who slept less than six hours a night had blood sugar problems compared to those who slept for eight hours or more. This has to do in part with burning sugar versus fat for fuel.
You're designed to burn fat during the sleep cycle because it burns long and slow, like a log on a campfire, in contrast to sugar and carbs which burn quickly, more like kindling on a fire. Because of undetected blood sugar issues, many people never go into fat metabolism during the night, in other words, they struggle to achieve ketosis.
Instead, their bodies attempt to burn sugar and carbs until the supply runs out, causing blood sugar to plummet. This then triggers a cortisol response which then wakes you up with so much energy that you could go clean the kitchen and have trouble falling back to sleep.
If you find yourself stuck in this vicious cycle of sleep deprivation raising blood sugar, and unstable blood sugar in turn compromising quality sleep, you might consider the following oils helpful:
Hormonal ups and downs from menstruation, pregnancy, and midlife fluctuations can impact your sleep. For example, the hormone progesterone promotes restful sleep and a drop in estrogen can leave you more vulnerable to stress. Similar to blood sugar events, hot flashes are also caused by a rush of cortisol that alerts your mind and wakes you up. Several essential oil blends can help balance hormones.
For night-time waking due to hormonal issues, consider:
Essential oils are known for their sedative, calming and relaxing properties that can help your body relax into restful sleep. The sleep enhancing effects of essential oils are significantly enhanced when several oils are combined as part of a blend.
Research and clinical experience consistently demonstrate using more than one essential oil at a time, in a layering context, consistently improves mood and sleep quality.
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